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How To Decode Mazda VIN Numbers

Updated July 20, 2017

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a uniform numbering system established by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the early 1980s to standardise the way that manufacturers assigned serial numbers. This numbering system is required for use on any road vehicle sold in the US, and has become a sort of "fingerprint" for auto manufacturers (such as Mazda) to identify individual vehicles.

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  1. Read the Mazda's VIN from the metal strip located at the base of the dashboard on the left. You can easily see it by standing outside of the vehicle and looking down through the windshield at the dash. You can also find the VIN on your vehicle registration or car insurance paperwork.

  2. Decode the first three characters indicate the vehicle's World Manufacturer Identifier:

  3. The first character indicates the country of manufacture. If the first character is "J," the vehicle was manufactured in Japan. If it is "1" or "4," it was manufactured in the United States.

  4. The second character indicates the manufacturer. An "M" indicates it was built by Mazda, while "F" stands for Ford. and "Y" stands for AAI (joint Ford/Mazda manufacturing). The third character further defines the vehicle manufacturing information.

  5. Decode the next five characters; they define details such as the vehicle's body type (such as sedan or convertible), type of engine, restraint systems (such as airbag locations) and the vehicle model line and series (such as Mazda6). For example, the characters "HP80C" designate a Mazda 6i sedan equipped with the 2.3L four-cylinder engine and dual front and side curtain airbags.

  6. Decode the ninth character: This is called the "check digit," and is based on a calculation of all other numbers in the VIN, which is then used to verify the complete VIN. It does not directly translate to any usable information.

  7. Decode the next two characters:

  8. The 10th character indicates the model year, such as "5" for 2005; model years prior to the year 2000 or from 2010 (and on to 2030) are indicated by letters.

  9. The 11th character is the designation for the plant where the car was manufactured.

  10. Decode the last six characters; they are the unique serial identification for the vehicle. For Mazda6 cars, the serial number starts with the letter M and then includes five digits. All other Mazdas have six-digit serial numbers.

  11. Tip

    The easiest way to decode your specific VIN is to use an online resource such as AnalogX VIN View (free) or CarFax (commercial). See the Resources section below for links to these sites. A Mazda dealership should be able to provide the VIN information, as well.

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Things You'll Need

  • Vehicle registration or insurance information
  • Computer

About the Author

Jeb Hoge has a degree in English and more than 10 years of experience as a technical/business writer supporting federal defense contractors and government agencies. He is a member of the Society of Technical Communicators and Toastmasters.

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